iOS 7 (App Store teaser 002)

Welcome to the first edition of App Recap in 2015. Fans who frequent iDownloadBlog have grown accustomed to App Recap, our daily column that provides a summation of the most important updates to your favorite apps.

As if that weren’t enough, App Recap strives to inform you of upcoming apps we think deserve your attention and surface quality apps you may have missed because they haven’t made it to the App Store charts yet.

Rounding it all off, we point you to notable app sales, freebies, not-to-be-missed discounts and interesting software focused news items which otherwise wouldn’t warrant standalone posts.

Let’s get to it.

New & Upcoming

WRC The Official Game [iPhone/iPad: $4] — The official mobile game of the FIA World Rally Championship packs in detailed graphics with support for MFi controllers. The 700MB download includes eighteen licensed cars and lets you play as any of the 17 official drivers to win a total of 13 official events of the 2014 WRC calendar.

Contact Pics+ [iPhone: $2] — If you’re not a fan of grey circles in iOS 8’s App Switcher, Brett Stover nifty little utility will add profile images to your Contacts from a variety of sources including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Gravatar, gMail and Google Image Search.

iPhocus 1.1 [iPhone: $2] — Though not necessarily a brand new release (it debuted on the App Store two months ago), mobile photography nuts should check out this nifty little app from Motion Apps. With iPhocus, your iPhone becomes a powerful camcorder with manual controls for focus, exposure and white balance.

My fav feature is the rack focus which changes the foreground in focus: just enclose the distance to get the initial and final focal points of the shot saved with the Focus Range.

iPhocus 1.1 fori OS iPhone screenshot 004

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners can shoot slow motion video in 240 frames per second and an AirFocus feature takes your iPhoneography to the next level by making it easy to control the app’s parameters with your other iPhone or iPad over Wi-Fi.

A great feature for mobile filmmakers, it lets one person focus on the framing with the other precisely controlling the focus and other parameters like in a real movie shooting.

Jailbreak Apps & Tweaks

Confero — Tidy up your Home screen by eliminating the red notification badges that many people find to be an eyesore.

Searchlight — This tweak improves Spotlight by letting you access the search interface from anywhere, even while within an app.

Switchability — If you ever wanted to put the App Switcher in Reachability view on iPhone 6 Plus devices, this useful tweak gets the job done.

ReachApp — A tweak that brings true split-screen multitasking to iOS has received plenty of new switches to customize it to your liking. You can enable features like viewing the Notification Center in split-screen view, take advantage of a much-requested app selector and more.

Discounts & Deals

Alayer [$1 → FREE] — A capable image editing app which lets you stack layers of effects on top of each other, including textures, lens flares, light leaks, gradients and colors, to achieve some dramatic results.

Game Dev Story [$5 → $1] — A simulation in which you manage your own game publishing company and try to create a million-selling game has been slashed 85 percent in a limited-time promotion.

Game For Two [$2 → FREE] — Board game fans won’t want to miss out on this one.

iCycle: On Thin Ice [$3 → FREE] — This hilarious platformer has you playing as a naked hero called Dennis. Explore chilly vistas, deadly hazards and gorgeous post-apocalyptic frozen wonderland to unlock clothes for Dennis.

Award-winning studio Damp Gnat drew inspiration from art, film and comedy to bring the game’s virtual world to life. Available free of charge, courtesy of Apple’s Free App of the Week promotion.

Mooniz [$1 → FREE] — The cute family puzzle game will be free for the next 24 hours.

Pocket Solitaire [$1 → FREE] — If you fancy a game of solitaire to kill a few minutes while commuting or waiting in the line to buy yogurt, Pocket Solitaire by Light Arts has been slashed to zero bucks for a limited time. Put the classic Solitaire game in that pocket of yours!

Smart Office 2 [$10 → FREE] — A productivity suite that lets you create, edit and read Microsoft Office documents will be discounted to zero bucks beginning today, Friday, January 2 at 9:00pm PST through Sunday, January 4 at 5:00pm PST.

Waterlogue Mess [$3 → FREE] — An excellent water color paint app that Apple featured in its latest “Start Something New” promotion is available at no cost through the official Apple Store app.

Waterlogue 1.1.2 for iOS iPhone screenshot 001

Word Mess [$3 → FREE] — Featured by Apple as a Staff Favorite, Word Mess challenges you to find words in beautifully designed word clouds and improve your visual scanning abilities and vocabulary through engaging gameplay.

Updates

GoodReader 4.8.1 [Universal: $5] — The powerful file manager and PDF reader by Good.iWare has removed several iCloud Drive features to ensure the compliance to Apple’s mandatory iCloud usage policy. Disabled features include creation of new folders inside iCloud, deletion of folders inside iCloud and moving of files and folders inside iCloud. VoiceOver compatibility and a fix for opening iCloud containers are include in this update as well.

Infuse 3.1 [iPhone/iPad: Freemium] — The popular multiformat iOS media player by jailbreak and aTV Flash Black developer FireCore has been infused with an all-new Trakt syncing (Pro users only). Not only does it sync watch history, but saves your progress across multiple devices so you can start watching a movie on your iPhone and continue right where you left off on your iPad, and vice versa.

Infuse 3 will now auto-delete subtitles when a video is removed. The update also includes global options for Dolby/DTS audio passthrough, a few fixes and standard stability and performance improvements.

Musi 5.2.4 [iPhone: FREE] — Musi lets you stream music and create playlists directly from YouTube and download songs from SoundCloud. This update includes the ability to add songs “Up Next” (just tap and hold on a song while you’re playing music), takes advantage of a new ”Recently Added” playlist and comes with a snazzy new orange icon. Check out our review of Musi.

Primary for Instagram 3.0.2 [iPhone: Freemium] — A powerful Instagram gallery app by Think Tap Work, Primary has been refreshed with half a dozen bug fixes and several new features, including “Open in Safari” when sharing, comment copying by way of long-tapping and three new URL schemes.

Rhonna Designs 1.16 [iPhone/iPad: $2] — The popular photo editing which lets you layer various design elements on top of each other has received a “New You” sticker pack, available at no cost within the app.

Shadow Fight 2 1.9.0 [iPhone/iPad: Freemium] — The sequel to the popular hand-to-hand combat game that debuted on Facebook was refreshed with the ability to fight again in any battle you’ve already won. As a bonus, players can enter the Gates of Shadows and prepare to start their tremendous journey through the shadow lands. Read Lory’s review.

Miscellaneous

10 apps to start the New Year off right — To start off the New Year with a bang and keep to those resolutions, check out Lory’s list of apps that will help you shed that winter coat you gained during the holidays, stay fit, be more productive and get your life organized throughout 2015.

Time tracking and productivity articles of 2014 — From the creators of Hours, a powerful time-tracking iOS app, comes this carefully curated list of some of the best articles that will help you get more organized so you’ll have more time to spend with your family and friends.

App Store growth continues unabated — According to latest stats from Fiksu, the App Store in November saw a 42 percent overall surge in app downloads year-over-year, passing eight million average daily downloads for the top 200 free iOS apps.

Part of the growth is attributed to an increase in organic downloads but surely new devices have contributed to the surge. The Cost Per Loyal User Index (CPLU) declined 27 percent to $1.58 in November, a 12 percent decrease year-over-year.

Fiksu November 2014 App Store competitive index

Fiksu noted that the average time users spent in apps increased by 21 percent. The frequency of opening apps increased to 11.5 times per month, up from 9.4 a year ago. These trends should continue over the December holidays and even into January, as per Fiksu CEO Micah Adler.

‘iDict’ tool claims to bypass Apple’s brute-force protection — A new tool pretends to be a legitimate iPhone device trying to log in to iCloud.com. Its author says iDict bypasses Apple’s account lockout restrictions and secondary authentication, potentially compromising Apple ID and iCloud accounts that use weak passwords and don’t have Apple’s two-step verification enabled.

iDownloadBlog travels to CES 2015 — The International CES is now upon the consumer electronics industry and our own Jim Gresham is heading out to the event in hopes of learning about new iOS devices and accessories.

Google’s New Year doodle — A charming doodle that appeared on Google’s homepage for New Year’s Eve provides a summary of the biggest stories that made 2014 such a forgettable year in technology, including subtle references to the Ice Bucket Challenge, landing on a comet, the FIFA World Cup and the global Flappy Bird phenomenon.

Google Doodle New Year 2014

If you want to learn more about other trends in search, check out the Google Trends webpage and spend some time on an interactive “Year in Search” micro-site which lets you browse related stories that made headlines in 2014. Seen below: Google’s doodle about the New Year 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=955DJiuToy4

Twitter’s ‘While you were away’ feature appears in iOS app — Twitter has expanded its “While you were away” feature to more users worldwide so everyone can now check out a recap of tweets they may have missed. It’s the first time Twitter has brought non-chronological tweets to your timeline.

What’s in Apple’s Japanese ‘Lucky Bags’? — A “Lucky Bag” (aka Fukubukuro) is a Japanese New Year tradition that offers a bag for a set price filled with unknown random items, sold for a discount. This year, Apple sold its “Lucky Bag” for ¥36,000, or roughly $300, with some big ticket items such as Mac notebooks, Apple TVs, Beats headphones, premium accessories by Twelve South and more.

Fukubukuro 2015 image 001

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s edition of App Recap and that the column has drawn your attention to some previous gems in the App Store.

Your feedback is much appreciated so feel free to email us your submissions, ideas and suggestions to tips@iDownloadBlog.com.